OMAHA, Neb. — Wednesday night was a big night in Omaha for the host Omaha Mavericks.
Taking on the Denver Pioneers in Summit League action, the Mavericks were looking to extend their winning streak to four games, and move above .500 in Summit League play.
On the flip side, the Pioneers were looking to extend their own winning streak to three games. Unfortunately, only one team would continue their winning ways, and the odds were in favour of the home side.
Marcus Tyus and Tra-Deon Hollins combined for 54 points to lead the way for the Mavericks, and Omaha held on in the second half to come away with the 97-88 win over Denver.
Just 15 seconds into the game, Tyus hit a three pointer to get Omaha on the board first. Denver responded with five quick points of their own, with C.J. Bobbitt hitting a three to give Denver an early 5-3 lead.
After Tyus’ opening three pointer, the Mavericks went three minutes before they scored again, which was a layup from Tyus.
That layup kicked off a 17-4 run for Omaha that put the momentum squarely behind them. Hollins hit a pair of free throws to close out the run, and the Mavericks held a 20-9 lead with under 14 minutes to play in the opening half.
Denver would get to within six points on several occasions as the first half moved along, but weren’t able to take a lead of their own. Omaha scored eight points in the final 1:29 of the half to extend their lead to 48-34 at the break.
In the second half, Omaha held a double-digit lead for the majority of the time. Down the stretch, however, the Pioneers had enough left in the tank for one last push.
A 15-7 run for the Pioneers, ignited by a pair of free throws from guard Duke Douglas, and capped off with a layup from Bobbitt, cut the deficit down to 87-82 with 3:16 to play. That was as close as Denver would get, as Tyus answered with a three pointer to put the game away.
Denver put up a valiant effort in the closing minutes, but Omaha held on for the 97-88 win over the Pioneers, much to the delight of their home crowd.
It was a record-setting night for guard Tra-Deon Hollins. With his two steals, he became the all-time steals leader in program history at Omaha. He has recorded 192 steals in just 52 games, an average of 3.7 per game.
Hollins also finished with 24 points and 5 rebounds,
Marcus Tyus scored a game-high 30 points to lead the way, while also chipping in 5 rebounds and 3 steals. It was Tyus’ fourth game this season with 30 or more points.
Joe Rosga scored a team-high 18 points for the Pioneers, who had four players in total score in double figures.
Denver made four more field goals than Omaha did on the night, and shot 63.6% from the field, but hit five fewer three pointers and 12 fewer free throws in the loss.
The loss brought an end to the modest two-game winning streak for the Denver Pioneers (11-8, 3-3). Denver will look to start a new winning streak on Saturday afternoon when they take on the IUPUI Jaguars.
With the win, the Omaha Mavericks (11-9, 4-3) extended their winning streak to a season-best four games. They will go for their fifth-straight victory on Saturday when they head on the road to take on the Oral Roberts Golden Eagles.
– T. Bennett